Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Intriguing Fact #1:
Big Blue forgot to mention that the Angola v. Portugal match-up is special, in that it is a former colony facing its one time colonial ruler. These types of matches are one of the best occurrences that a World Cup tournament can offer. Of course, it is hard to imagine anyone hating Portugal, except for Brazilians and Spaniards and Macau, however I think that the overmatched Angolan squad will be able to draw from the rancor of 400+ years of colonial subjugation and make a game of it. The nation of Angola is still in ruins from the revolution and subsequent civil wars, so this may be the one thing that the tattered nation can rally around, and one cannot discount the power that might provide.
Below the Angolan side rests between halves
Intriguing Fact #2:
Portugal and Mexico are actually two of the better teams in the tournament. Big Blue is a “fan” of neither side and therefore chooses to ignore the truths that flow freely from the facts. It is possible that both squads make some real noise in this tournament and one of them might possibly make a deep run. Both sides are well-balanced and deep, which is a benefit in a month-long tournament, especially because Portugal will have to fight revolution #2 with Angola (cards and injuries) and Mexico just simply plays dirty and will inevitably lose players to suspensions.
Intriguing Fact #3:
Christiano Ronaldo was named for Ronald Reagan. Win it for theGipper!
Intriguing Fact #4:
Iran, lest you need reminding, is in the Axis of Evil, therefore if they do win a game or two, they will be faced with international sanctions or an invasion by a “coalition of the not so willing, but…” As I see it, a soccer team and its coaching staff and trainers (40 men?) wouldn’t be able to hold out very long under increased international scrutiny and sanctions, and they may even lose some guys after the initial U.S…I mean Coalition invasion, even though they would then put the invading forces on the defensive in a long, drawn out conflict. Hell, we might even lose Germany to a tactical nuclear strike by either the Iranians, or U.S. or Israel. Would that be so bad? Nah, let’s just ignore the whole thing.
I feel that Portugal and Mexico will advance out of this group and that Big Blue is a communist insurgent planted in cyber-space by the International Brotherhood of Sports fans or IBS. Ooh I think his tummy hurts.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
On to Group D!
General thoughts: This is the opposite of a Group of Death. This is a Group of Big Hugs, or a Group of Footed Pajamas. It will certainly take some serious effort for the favorites of this group to crash out in this round. But never bet against Iberians to crash out early, so they can enjoy their wines and naps.
Angola. Hey first time in the Cup Finals! Congratulations! Go home now. Which they will almost certainly do. They rely upon a former European club player, Akwa, "now plying his trade in Qatar" which means almost always, "too old to be effective in a real league." And that's it. They got to the cup by dominating at home in their qualification run. There are no games in Angola now though. Normally, I like the worst team in the bracket to beat Portugal, not this time. If it should happen, Portugal will either spontaenously combust, or quit soccer and go back to their other passions, like Navigating.
Iran. Their great moment in World Cup history, which the BBC delights in mentioning as often as they can, was when they beat the US, 2-1 in 1998. So they are good enough to beat bad teams, even while on European (neutral) soil. I imagine they'll have a battle with Angola, and possibly give either Mexico or Portugal a hard time. 1 win, 1 draw, and 1 loss seems reasonable here. And I don't think that will be enough for them. Though they could make things more interesting than they deserve to, partially because of the teams they are facing.
Mexico. Let's see, the finish behind the US in qualifying, get beat by the US, and they can a #1 seed. As Claudio Reyna put it, bullshit! This may be the worst #1 seed in the tournament, and thanks to randomness of the seedings, they have a very good chance to advance. But there's not a whole lot to like about this team. They play a fairly ugly brand of soccer. They do have the talent to simply outplay Angola. We'll see how well they do against Iran. That game and the game against Portugal could end up being some very very ugly football. I think it safe to say that if Portugal and Mexico tie their game, they will most likely be the two teams to advance. If one wins, that could leave a door open.
Portugal. This team has a lot of stars, some of whom are getting a little old, like Figo. And some of their stars may be a year or two away from their peak (Christiano Ronaldo). It should also be noted that Ronaldo is just the kind of guy that other teams will look forward to saying "He ain't pretty no more" at the end of the match. He's pretty, he plays a finesse speed game that just asks to get taken down from behind in painful ways. Look at him! You kind of want to kick him yourself, don't you? Look to Mexico to pick up that challenge, happily.
On the whole, an ugly group to predict. But I do look for Portugal to pick up where they left off at Euro 2004, where they did advance to the finals (of course, the tournament was played in Portugal, but still). Smarter men than me have said about this team, "There is too much talent for them to fail" and Portugal has proven them wrong. But I'm going to say it again. This team simply has more pure talent on the pitch then the all-star team of the other 3 teams combined.
I grudingly put Mexico in to the next round. But I wouldn't if you replaced Iran with Serbia or Croatia. And while I'm completely cheating, I'll say that "I won't be surprised" if Iran finds a way to sneak ahead of Mexico. OK, that's not true. I'd be shocked. But I have put it out there on some level. We'll see. That's why they play the games, as Spanish announcer Christo "Con Cuero" Bermano puts it.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Maradona scored, and played the full 90 minutes? Wasn't he on death's door a year ago? Paul Gascoigne is alive? How is that possible? Robbie Williams is still considered a celebrity?
I don't know what to make of any of this.
Go read about it, and make sense of it in the comments. Please.
"It made us stronger, and brought us together," Cisse said. "I don't understand how fans can boo their own team before a World Cup. Even more so when we are winning.
But you know, if you are a French footballer, you don't really have a choice who to play for. And yes, it turns out your countrymen are dicks. Hello, join the rest of the world.
Though I'm willing right now, with the power invested in me, which is none whatsoever, to invite Thierry Henry to become a US citizen.
I'm guessing it could happen very, very quickly.
Suspended for the 2006 season by the NFL after a fourth positive drug test, Williams signed a $240,000, one-year contract Sunday with the Toronto Argonauts -- a deal making him the highest-paid running back in the Canadian league.
I know this is a pay cut for Ricky, and I really do wish him well, even though he completely fucked my Fantasy League with his good production and subsequent one-year ban. If I had known Ronnie Brown was going to be flying solo this year, I don't think I would have traded him. Dammit! All the same, I work for a nonprofit in the realm of techy nerdiness.
They don't drug test, but if they did, and I failed it (I wouldn't by the way), I don't think I could drive up to Canada and get a quarter of a million dollars. It is certainly small change, but Ricky is awfully damaged goods.
Let's hope he gets his act together, and by that I mean that he decides which he rather do--get high and watch 2001, or play football. I think the former may very well be the healthier option. I'm rooting for him. He's always been an interesting character, but American professional sports are so conservative that he's been considered crazy crazy out there, and really, he just reminds me of my buddies in college. Am I crazy because I like not getting hit really hard when I could be having a beer and playing PlayStation? I don't think so. Is smoking pot really, really out there? Because if it is, the NBA should be a lot nuttier than it is.
I've never been photographed in a wedding dress, but I'll never say never, either. Trusting Mike Ditka? Well, that is a bit crazy. Can't justify that one.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Gatlin, of the United States, the Olympic and world champion, and Powell, the Commonwealth champion from Jamaica, share the world record of 9.77 sec and had planned to race each other for the first time this year at the Norwich Union Grand Prix on June 11.
It remains the most eagerly awaited contest in the sport, but 24 hours before the two were due to race in separate 100m events at last night's Prefontaine Classic, in Eugene, Oregon, Gatlin's agent said his client would not be running in Gateshead....
...Gatlin said he would be excited about racing against Powell at some stage, but added: "Obviously, this is not the right time."
Apparently, it is so obvious that no reason needed to be given. C'mon Justin! Give us a reason. We'll believe it!
I've read a couple of different accounts, and it all sounds like good news.
The US tried something I've been hoping they would, which was to slide DeMarcus Beasley over to the right side. One of the strongest positions the US has is left-midfielder, with Beasley, Eddie Lewis, John O'Brien and Bobby Convey all playing well there. But they are weakest on the right side of the offense (Steve Ralston, anyone? anyone?) so why not switch Beasley out there? It sounds like it worked well, with Beasley just missing a couple of opportunities, forcing some great saves from the Latvian netminder, etc.
According to the AP (which I think I linked to above twice) Eddie Johnson continues to look better, which is fantastic news.
The goal came from a cross made by Steve Cherundolo, after a nice overlapping run, placing the cross on the head of Brian McBride. Which is always, always a good thing to try to do. And that's exactly why I like Steve at the rightback spot, and Lewis on the left. They are both potentially dangerous match-up headaches for other teams. Defenses hate defenders who are dangerous in the attack, because forwards won't track back to mark them, and it overloads a defense. It is a great asset to have, and this team is going to need all offensive help it can get, because God help them, they don't finish particularly well. Apparently, Brian McBride finished the game with a huge welt on his head. He is contractually obligated to do that at least once a year. Can't find any good wounded McBride photos at the moment, but there have been times when he looked he should be in the hospital, not on the damn pitch. He's a warrior!
And speaking of warriors:
Oh, and Captain America was at the game, but Jesus Christ, has he let himself go. Now, I'm a close personal friend of Captain America, and I want to appeal directly to him:
Steve buddy, I know you have had some ups and downs in your life. It can't be easy to be frozen in ice and to come back to find the world so changed since you were fighting Nazis. I know losing Bucky weighs heavily upon your soul, and your concerns with the new laws the US government is proposing to track superheroes has you totally stressed out. But we've talked about this Steve. You can't eat your problems away. Get some help, get healthy. We need you, buddy.
Sure, it was against the rather unimpressive Seattle Mariners. But still, two rookie pitchers, Liriano going for his second win, Bonser for his first (he should have been going for his second as well, but his relievers let him down.)
Boof was sketchy as first, giving up some runs early, before settling down. But still, when he left the game after the 5th inning, the Twins had the lead, and then they added to it, with former starter Carlos Silva pitching well, and then Jesse Crain came in, and tried to piss it away, loading the bases.
The Twinkies brought in Juan Rincon, and I was listening to this game on the radio with Miwacar, and he can back up that I predicted a triple play.
Then there was that triple play, which came in the eighth inning after Jesse Crain had loaded the bases with nobody out. Gardenhire called for Juan Rincon, who got the triple play with one pitch, with second baseman Luis Castillo grabbing a grounder, tagging the runner, throwing to Justin Morneau for the second out and him throwing to Tony Batista to catch the runner straying off third.
I think by predicting it, I somehow influenced the play. It's chaos theory, people.
Bonser gets his first win.
And last night, from what I've heard, Liriano was dominant during his time on the mound.
The 22-year-old Liriano (3-0) pitched five scoreless innings, striking out six and allowing four hits against the Mariners' beleaguered offense.
Friday, May 26, 2006
But the goal of these games, for a team with obvious, obvious huge holes, isn't to win the games. It is to see who played well.
And the US beat those awful dirty Chavez supporting freaks. With Tim Howard in goal. So, you know it wasn't the A-Team out there.
But just as the result against Morocco wasn't the real purpose, winning against Venezeula wasn't the real goal. Finding out who can play the huge gaping holes in the line up is the goal of these games. The US isn't Brazil. They aren't England, they aren't even France. the US isn't in the top 5 teams in the world, no matter what crazy-ass ideas FIFA puts out there.
And I'll tell you what, this paragraph from this summary makes me feel a lot better:
The South Americans' goal came under heavy pressure in the first quarter-hour alone, with Reading winger Bobby Convey causing major problems up the left flank. Young striker Eddie Johnson and Wolff both looked in the mood as well, buzzing around the attacking third in the hunt for goals.
Eddie Johnson looking dangerous is good news. It is actually HUGE news. But Convey may be the revelation in this game.
All that changed in the 36th minute, though. Just seconds after spurning a golden chance, MLS leading scorer Ching appeared at the near post where he volleyed home an inch-perfect cross from Convey to give the States a precious lead and bring an end to their brief goal drought.
Another way to tell that the result was secondary to Arena's purpose: The following paragraph is about to reference a second half sub named Landon Donovan.
Some clever approach work from second-half substitute Landon Donovan freed Johnson down the right side and his classy cross was met by a diving header from New England Revolution revelation Clint Dempsey.
So, the US, with their 3rd string goalkeeper shut-out a very marginal team. Is that a thing to get excited about? Probably not. The play of Bobby Convey and Clint Dempsey and Brian Ching and Eddie Johnson is, though. The B-Team got a lot of the work today, and some of those folks played themselves into the First Team. I like the idea of Convey playing maybe 60-70 minutes.
Viking Fred Smoot has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct stemming from a team boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka in October.
The cornerback will pay a $1,000 fine and perform 48 hours of community service, said his attorney David Valentini. He also had a 30-day jail sentence stayed for a year.
The judge declined Smoot's request to serve his community service at SexWorld.
"We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," he said. "What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect."
You heard the kindly researcher, everybody. Smoking pot will make you invincible. Doritos are your kyrptonite.
Later on in the article he was quoted as saying:
"Also, you know this is late Friday afternoon. Having concluded our research, we are at this moment without gainful employment, and we haven't got shit to do."
This counts as a sports entry, right? I referenced snowboarders.
I was puttering around in there, and hit a page that just rather casually mentions that the site has a fucking pantload of free streaming video from every World Cup ever televised. Best goals ever, classic players, and the like.
I've watched the first couple of the goals on the Greatest Goals section, and I highly recommend it. Us youngsters may not remember Garrincha, but he was a bad little man. And I am old enough to remember the hated Lothar Matteus, the German John Elway, punch one in from 20 yards out, after somehow evading a cleats high fast challenge. Beautiful stuff.
It's an enjoyable read, full of little insights. Go and read it.
Some of the more disturbing revelations:
1. Raymond Domenech, France's head coach has admitted he uses star signs to determine who makes it onto his squad. There are a few players who are convinced they were left off because they were Scorpios, or Leos. And they may be right.
2. In 1966, a player for England, Nobby Stiles (with a name like that, he pretty much was guaranteed to be English, yeah?) had an intricate routine involving himself, olive oil and grease.
3. John Terry listens to Usher?
And the quote for the headline comes from Adrian Mutu.
Cory Gibbs was a young, up-and-coming central or left back, with a lot of potential to play a fair amount in the cup.
Gregg Berhalter can't spell Greg, and he can't play defense. If Berhalter makes it onto the pitch for anything but mop-up duty, the US is in some serious trouble.
I'd say this pretty much guarantees Eddie Lewis will be manning the left-back position.
Ugh. disappointing way to start my day.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Landon Donovan: Cybernetic Tiger
DeMarcus Beasley: Spunky Misunderstood Genius
Brian McBride: Sullen Choirboy
Kasey Keller: International Cow
Eddie Lewis: Ultra-Chronic Monstah
Bruce Arena: Big Wicker Ventriloquist
"We won't be at an ideal level," Parreira said. "But that's normal. It's impossible to begin the competition in perfect form. We have to remember the national team hasn't played since last October, in eight months. We can't make miracles."
"We will be coming off a stage where you can lose but still advance," Parreira said. "It will require a lot of responsibility."
Of course, this may seem very presumptuous of a coach, predicting concerns about the 2nd round before the first round has even been played. But then again, Brazil ended up with Australia, Croatia and Japan, so maybe presumptuous isn't quite the right word. Common-sensical, perhaps.
Happy little fact in the story. If Brazil wins their group, which they will, and if the US manages to capture second in their group, they would play each other. Fucking awesome. Will Balboa climb down out of the commentator's box so he can just barely miss a wildly ambitious bicycle kick? We should hope for it. That's about the best thing that could happen in that match-up.
And the heavens opened up, and God smiled on them, and said, "I, in my infinite grace and wisdom, have seen fit to bestow you with a 6 run lead against the over-achieving Detroit Tigers."
But, unbeknownst to God (he's not infallible, you know), the Devil said, I think I'll make Vance Wilson step on a ball, so Pudge has to play.
And the rest is history. Devil wins, Devil wins, Devil wins!
Rodriguez drove in five runs in the final two innings and Detroit rallied from a six-run deficit to beat Kansas City 13-8 Thursday, handing the Royals their 13th straight loss.
Rumors persist that Ronaldo, the bull of a Brazilian striker, will sign a deal to play with the NY Red Bulls of the MLS following the completion of another Brazilian championship in the World Cup. These rumors are startling to me because Ronaldo has more talent in his right little toe than your average MLS striker has period. He is a bit advanced in age, but he should quickly show his supreme talents if he were to come play in the MLS. Taking a page out of Pele’s book, he will display his wares in the biggest sports market in the United States, even if it is for the MLS. It could do wonders for the league and soccer in general in the U.S. if he were to sign. What type of contract will get him to drop out of the lucrative leagues of Europe? I imagine he will be handsomely rewarded, not to mention he will be in NY. I say felicidades and welcome seu filho da puta. Bota P’ra Cordel!!!
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
And miwacar's blatant sarcasm aside, I think there is a lot of truth to what he was saying. These are fucking friendlies, and why risk the guys you know you are going to start? This is where you work out the questions remaining. Of course, ideally, there would be no more questions, but we aren't Brazil, are we?
And even in Brazil, plenty of folks are saying, why not Robinho?
But so the US lost to Morocco, using guys who probably won't start in the World Cup? O'Brien for only 45 minutes? Enough of the gnashing of teeth, and the tearing of shirts.
It's a tough draw, to be sure, but the Italians are imploding, the Czechs are the It Girls, but their one success was two years ago, and Rosicky is hurt. Who knows. I'm not worried about Claudio if he doesn't play in the other friendlies. Why risk it?
Did I mention that Claudio Reyna pulled himself from the game? Well, he did and it was awesome. He claims he slightly pulled his “hammy” and wanted to use caution. Again, it is a ploy. Reyna, who is oft injured, has decided to injure himself now, ever so slightly, so that come Cup time he will have his injury out of the way and will be free to concentrate on fine distribution from the midfield. The world will watch in awe as Reyna leads the US side on surgical strike after surgical strike, resulting in the most tournament goals scored for a side and several hat tricks for Johnson, McBride and my all time fave…Brian Ching.
Bruce Arena is the mastermind behind this squad and its most brilliant approach to this World Cup. All the talking heads are casting blame already. To them I say, “Hold your horse cowboy Joe, the US squad is doing this on purpose, in order to fool other teams, namely Italy as they are most stupid of teams. It will work Jack, the US will win it all, you’ll see. Mmmhhahhahahaahhaha!” (Best when read in the voice of Yakov Smyrnov or Borat.)
As a citizen of the greatest nation on earth I hold firm that my team will win and that all negativism is wasted on such a wonderfully skilled and dynamic side such as ours. USAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSA!!!!
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Ludovic Giuly will refuse to make himself available for France coach Raymond Domenech at the World Cup even in the case of a late injury. The 29-year-old was last week not included in Domenech's 23-man squad for the prestigious competition which takes place in Germany from June 9 to July 9.
"If a player gets injured at the last minute, well, too bad for Domenech," said Giuly, who has 17 caps and won the Primera Liga and Champions League titles with Barcelona this season.
Awesome. Get ready for more stories not exactly like this, but like this. The World Cup is the world's biggest competition, and each country's neuroses come out in shining form. By the way, the article goes on to reveal that Giuly will be spending the World Cup canoeing in Australia. He's not even going to watch it! That's some spite, baby.
I also have to say that I'm shocked Giuly is 29. He's one friggin' late bloomer. I hadn't heard his name until last year. He may be the French version of Steve Ralston, except that France has enough depth that they can discard 29 year olds who have had one impressive year.
No screaming, drunk fans. No real sense of drama. Just a collection of suited guys either rolling their eyes, faking happiness, and the occasional fist pump, or handclap from the executive who is lucky enough to get #1.
And then you wait, you know, months, to find out who they pick. What a ridiculous televised event. Sadly, I missed it this year.
Luckily, the fine folks at Yahoo Sports don't have just the pick order, they have a new Mock Draft based on the new intel.
I don't know how good it is, though. I can certainly imagine a world where the Hawks take some big lanky Italian--that seems very much like a Hawk move. But I'd be shocked, shocked, shocked if the Timberwolves take Rudy Gay.
Everyone knows that if the Timbies want to hold on to Garnett, they have show him that they are going to surround him with credible players (and the Wolves record in the draft is such that no one believes that help will come in the draft) or some potential players that Garnett can be excited about helping him out in the paint.
And this Yahoo Draft has, just one position under Wolves, Patrick O'Bryant, a talented (though a bit raw) 7-footer who showed he can bang under the basket. Garnett has seen his share of big men who don't actually work around the basket. Or big guys would who love to, but simply aren't in the shape to do so. Ah, I miss Stanley Roberts.
I can't imagine a scenario in which the Timberwolves take Rudy Gay over Patrick O'Bryant, except for the one that is known affectionately by me as the Chicago Sportswriter Nocturnal Emission, wherein the Wolves trade Garnett to the Bulls for nothing. Just to be nice. Here ya' go, Chicago, ya fat bastahds.
Anyway, plenty of time to figure this one out. I'm very good at predicting free agent moves, you know. Jerks.
But he wrote of the definitive pieces of fan-memoir literature in Fever Pitch, and then presumably stood by while Jimmy Fallon took his baby, sodomized it and ate it. This is one of those instances where you can absolutely not judge a book by the movie it "inspired." The point is, the guy knows his soccer (or "football" in Bizarro America, aka The Rest of the World) and happens to you know, write pretty well.
Here is the link, go and read it and stuff.
When you are done there, poke around the main feature page, and just see what grabs you. There's a lot there. And then, when you're done suckling at the teat of welfare media, how's about you actually buy something? Fever Pitch!
update. I should have known better than to dismiss National Georgraphic's ability to get in a booby shot.
For those who don't know, Clint Dempsey is a possible member of the starting 11 for the US Soccer team. He is also a rapper. Now, don't get me wrong. I love soccer; I love hip-hop (particularly these days, MF Doom! He's freaky!). It is the combination of the two that I find unsettling/hilarious. I like beer, and I like barbeque. But I've tried barbeque flavored beer (seriously, I have) and it was not at all pleasant. This is like that. What goes together with presumably well-known-in-Houston rapper XO? How about footage of a guy kicking a soccer ball? Does it somewhat strain one's incredulity when the cliched rap video posse is trying to look hard on a soccer pitch? Are there a lot of soccer fields located where people grew up on the streets and had to practice looking hard?
If Clint Dempsey, aka Deuce, is rollin' in a car with crazy doors that open straight up instead of out, does that mean he's super badass? Because if he is, he needs to start playing like Cantona. Let's see that badassness out there on the field. Kick a fan, or something.
It's such a silly, silly idea. I have a hard time accepting that Nike bankrolled it. Nike is usually so good at telling what is going to be cool in the upcoming year, maybe they just got cocky. Bunch of dudes in suits smoking cigars that are really just tightly rolled wads of cash, kicking their feet up on their desk, saying smugly, "Yep, this will be a challenge, but we can make this seem cool."
No, no you can't. Tarantino couldn't make this look cool. (Unless he had made into Japanese anime. that would be cool. kind of).
Tennessee raised Summitt's salary Monday to $1.125 million for next season and extended her contract six years, through the 2011-12 season.
Also, women play excellent fundamental basketball. And you know, as far as I'm concerned the word fundamental is a synonym for EXCITING. What an awesome two-handed chest shot that was! Whoo.
Seriously, though, Pat Summitt should probably be coaching in the NBA by now. If I were a Knicks Fan, I know I'd rather see Pat Summitt courtside than Isiah Thomas. Hell, I'd rather see Whoopi Goldberg.
Hell, Why Not? Pat Summitt For Knicks Coach! Imagine the pleasure Isiah can take in walking into her office, shaking his head, and saying "This is what you choose to do with your life?" And then grabbing her ass.
(I just noticed that one of the attorneys in the case was Peter Parcher, so if I may, let me make this joke, "Peter, with great power of attorney, comes great Responsibility." Ahh, that felt good).
Also, (and I know this post is rapidly evolving (devolving)) back in January, the folks at Betus.com posted odds on what would happen with Isiah, and I don't see "Taking over as Head Coach" or hiring "Pat Summitt as Head Coach, touching her ass" as an option, which means, presumably, big money could be had on those longshots.
Time to work on that Time Machine, Made from Wood and Gumption.
Lovely news via ESPNsoccernet that the USA is healthier than could be hoped, though this quote from the article to me is more of an bad news/strictly OK news type of thing:
"John O'Brien is working his way back into form, Claudio Reyna looks refreshed and ready to follow up his All-Star World Cup in 2002 with another solid tournament and MLS forwards Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching are starting to show signs of being viable options alongside Brian McBride."
I couldn't possibly be happier to hear that John O'Brien was healthy, unless the news was delivered by a leather clad Winona Ryder sitting in my lap. I like the fact that we are only worried about his fitness, and not his health. That said, 3 friendlies lies ahead, and then the World Cup games, and O'Brien has been having Chris Chandler-like run of injuries, and he isn't getting dry-humped by 300 pound men 8 times every Sunday (as far as I know). Reyna is going to be a huge part of this squad's potential success. He still looks, at times, like the only guy who knows what poise on the ball is supposed to look like. He's been throwing his body a bit more than he has in the past, which is good news/bad news in and of itself. Great, Reyna can play defensive mid, and be a steadying influence, and creep into the attack. Bad, Reyna Break Like Glass. The last part of the quote is the most worrying. We are less than a month away from the Cup. Someone should have shown "signs of being viable options alongside Brian McBride" about 6-12 months ago. The starting line-up should be set, or you should be having a tough time picking between two equally talented players, not waiting to see which one shows more "signs of being viable" than the other.
"Signs of being viable" sounds like something the Bush Administration would say about Iraq. That is, by definition, worrying. Though I do think that if the Iraqis could get united behind Brian McBride, they would be much better off.
Here comes another quote from the article than seems more focused on the good news than the bad. See if you can spot the under-discussed worrying part of this paragraph:
The buzz in some circles is that Clint Dempsey is ready for prime time after an impressive training camp and some stellar performances for the national team this year. Before we hand him the starting right midfield spot, consider that he has yet to prove himself against top-flight competition (which he might have been able to do against Germany in March if he hadn't gotten suspended for punching New England teammate Joey Franchino).
Well, fine, if he hadn't punched his teammate, maybe we would know by now what kind of team player he could be? Also, Clint Dempsey Raps, as "Deuce"--he's totally underground, like how when Nike Soccer finds an underground rapper, and foots the bill for 4 1/2 minute rap video? That kind of underground.
But I don't know who else to give that job to. Steve Ralston has embalming fluid for blood, cinder blocks for feet, and the testicles of "Webster" era Emmanuel Lewis. Having a guy who has never played against top-flight competition because he was suspended right before getting to play against Germany? Does Brazil, or the Czechs, or the Netherlands have to worry about this kind of shit for their starting right midfielder? I don't think so. A team that can't pick out a top-flight right midfielder is a team in a bit of trouble, frankly.
I think this paragraph actually makes the situation at striker sound better than it did at the top of the article:
The fact that none of the forwards in the U.S. pool stepped up to take hold of the starting slot next to McBride was one of the biggest concerns before training camp began. Johnson and Ching showed enough during the 10 days in Cary to lead us to believe they just might be ready to take the role.
Johnson is the guy, if he is truly healthy and can regain the form he had when he ran roughshod during 2004 qualifying. That feels like a long time ago, and we haven't seen that form in awhile, and he never showed it against a team like the Czechs. Not his fault, of course, that he had to play games against the scrappy and talent-deprived and on ugly fields of the CONCACAF.
Brian Ching has been playing great of late. Major Caveat: In the MLS. Carlos Valderrama rocked the MLS despite being old, refusing to run, play defense, or really moving more than 10 yards in either direction from the midfield line. If rocking the MLS were hard to do, would I still fondly remember Digitial Takawira or Doctor Khumalo? Answer: yes I would, because those are still the coolest names to ever rock the MLS.
But back to my original point: the MLS ain't the Premiership of Barclay's, it ain't the Bundesliga, it ain't Serie A, it ain't even the Eredversie. It may be on par, with say, the Swiss league. Being a bad-ass for an MLS team is like being a badass for the FC Grasshopper. Which is to say, like being the skinny kid at fat camp.
One of my co-contributors, miwacar, will certainly leap to Brian Ching's defense. I'm not saying he's wrong, I'm just saying miwacar has a serious Big Asian Man fetish. Read his words with caution.
Apparently, one of the big questions left to decide is formation, at least according to the article. It raises it in relation to where Eddie Lewis will play. Specifically, will he be the left-back?:
It appears more and more likely that the U.S. team will field a 3-5-2 formation come June 12 against the Czechs and such a formation would not include Lewis in the back, especially considering the Czechs boast Karel Poborsky on the right flank. However, if Arena goes with a 4-4-2 formation, he is supremely confident Lewis can hold his own. This week should allow us to see how well Lewis can adjust to switching from left midfield to left back.
First of all, I can't state how much I hate the idea of a 3-5-2 for the US. Our defense will be young and physically talented. But I don't trust any of those guys out on Islands on their own. I'd rather see a 4-4-2 with Thomas Dooley sweeping then see a 3-5-2. Gibbs, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, all these guys can play some decent ball, and even great ball. But I either want them all out there together, or 3 of them, and then an experienced field marshall sweeping (Eddie Pope?). There were organizational issues in the back all throughout qualifying. I don't have an awful time with Lewis in the back left, but I think I have a better idea. Let him play left midfield. Let DeMarcus play right midfield, and then let DeMarcus wander wherever the hell he wants. Let him create the chaos in the midfield, and let Lewis do what he does best, hang back on the wing, and serve wicked crosses into the mixer. It ain't Total Football, but it is about the best the US could do to screw up the defensive scheming of those dirty Italians, and stinky Czechs, and just purely evil Ghanians. Also, I think the Czechs and the Italians are far too talented for the US to rely on controlling the midfield. Play 4 back, Bruce!
Monday, May 22, 2006
From the AP:
SAN FRANCISCO -- A 7-year-old Arizona boy swam from Alcatraz Island to the city in 47 minutes Monday, where his father lifted him from the chilly waters.
Braxton Bilbrey was joined by his coach and two other adults for the estimated 1.4-mile swim. The second-grader was greeted at the finish by reporters, photographers and well-wishers.
(via the Washigton Post, plenty more there to read about the 7 year old who has shown more dedication in something that I have in my entire life. Stupid jerky kid.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
First up, Francisco Liriano, well chronicled here on this blog (I do believe this is the first time I've linked to myself, which is very exciting. Like masturbating with a hand that has fallen asleep. Too crude a metaphor?). Liriano gave himself his own run support to start with (which again, might be like masturbating with a hand that has fallen asleep), plating his first major league RBI. He went 5 innings, pitched about 68 pitches, and gave up 1 run. The Twins win, 7-1.
Scott Baker pitched tonight. He's the least green out of these new pitchers, having pitched some last year as a starter. He's got good stuff. We don't talk about him much. I think it's because his name is so boring. I mean, Francisco Liriano, Johann Santana, Boof Bonser are one group. Brad Radke and Scott Baker are the other group.
Baker also pitched 5 innings, struck out about 8, and left with a healthy lead. But again, the Twins bats went apeshit. Scored 6 runs in the first inning, and drove out the starting pitcher Hendrickson before he retired a single batter. He's 1-10 for his career, and he's been getting lit up a lot, so maybe Scott Baker pitched well, or maybe, the Brewers just have some sucky starting pitching. Twins scored 16 runs in this one. Baker struck out 8.
Next up: Boof Bonser! Boof Bonser! Boof Bonser!
Special shout-out to friend (and invited contributor to I Dislike Your Favorite Team) Dave who predicted early in the day on Saturday that the Brewers would win the series. Eat it, Dave!
Friday, May 19, 2006
I think these three guys put together are still younger than Jose Lima.
The Twins starters for this weekend's series with the Brewers have a combined 20 major league starts between the 3 of them. When did this turn into a rebuilding year? I guess maybe after they lost the last 2 games in the 4 game series against the White Sox and got swept again in Detroit. My colleague has just introduced you to Boof Bonser, who has zero major league starts. He will be joined by Francisco Liriano, a real phenomenon and ace in the making but still young and a bit wild, and by Scott Baker who has 16 of the 20 overall starts with very mixed results coming out of those starts.
It is considerably frustrating to see the Twins pitching, which was the best thing going for them over the last 5-6 seasons, have the troubles that they have had. Kyle Lohse has now been given enough opportunity to prove himself as a competent starter, which as it turns out, he is not. He has fine stuff, but the mental game of a junior high schooler. I am not sure what happened to Carlos Silva, other than all of his stuff is being thrown considerably higher in the strike zone than last season. There is nothing like being offered a change up at belt level with guys on. He used to throw that pitch at the shins and force a guy to hit into a double-play, now he gives hitters pitches to crush as doubles. So, I am happy to see Gardy finally reach his limit with these underperformers and attempt to try out some of the youthful talent he has at his disposal. Let's see what these kids can do and hope that their desire to make a name for themselves will translate into aggressive, win producing pitching.
With improved pitching, Gardy need only to stop the Twins from having multi-error games (an unheard of idea previously) and get his guys to produce hits with runners in scoring position, then maybe they could climb back, again, into the AL Central race.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Boof Bonser is the newest member of the Twins pitching staff, after Kyle Lohse melted down in pure Lohsian form, surrendering a bunch of runs and then refusing to join the rest of the club in the dugout. On an emotional level, I can understand this, by the by. I don't know if I would want to spend two hours watching my half hour of suckiness sink my team, while being powerless to do anything about it. Seems rough. But you know, there are 12 guys on any college basketball team, and #12 does nothing but sit and delight in his team's success without his input. He knows the team would be drastically worse with him out there; he gets it. Lohse didn't get that the Twins were drastically worse than the pretty sketchy they are currently with him on the mound. Or he did, and it didn't sit well. Have fun in Rochester, Kyle.
So now we greet Boof Bonser. As a nickname, it doesn't inspire terror like "Iron Mike" or "Hammerin' Hank" or "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.
However, it ain't a nickname. It is his real name. He wasn't born with it, though. He changed it (on purpose, and sober) to Boof in 2001, presumably because 9/11 changed everything. And a man who chooses to be known "Boof" is scary. He's unpredictable. A Loose Cannon. A perfect foil for Danny Glover!
But for those of you who don't know anything about Boof Bonser, let me present a list of things that are true, things that may be true, and things that are almost certainly not true:
1. Boof has played for some of the best nicknames in Baseball outside of Japan. His resume includes stints with the Volcanoes, The Swamp Dragons, The Navigators, and the Rock Cats.
2. Boof excels at Backgammon.
3. Boof was born John Paul Bonser
4. Boof has joined Matt Leinert in helping Paris Hilton pull a train.
5. He was the Pinellas County, Florida, player of the year of 2000 when he went 7-3, had an ERA of 1.88.
6. As a hitter the same year, he hit just under .525 and had 11 homeruns.
7. Boof likes it when you explain to him that his name is awfully close to English slang for homosexual.
8. Boof started out in the San Francisco Giants organization. He was traded to the Twins when he commented on the size of Barry Bonds' head.
9. He was part of the trade that sent A.J. Pierzinski to SanFran in exchange for Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano. The Giants have stupid personnel people.
10. Boof was considered an unlikely middle of the season call up, until his excellent 2005 season and excellent beginning of 2006. Also, the Twins are desperate for help in what is decidedly not the rotation they were looking for.
11. Boof Bonser has a working prototype of a car that runs on water.
12. Boof Bonser has two other pitches to compliment his low-90's fastball.
13. Sometimes, Boof likes to invite his friends over to watch the Price is Right.
14. Boof Bonser will get his first major league start on May 21, 2006, against the Brewers who really, really aren't owned by the Commissioner Bud Selig. really, they aren't. Really.
15. Boof, like every other member of the Twins pitching staff, has promised to throw at least one meatball a game, in the hopes of creating a highlight reel catch for Torii Hunter.
16. If you say Boof Bonser 5 times in a row, with perfect sincerity, you are transported to The Shire in Lord of the Rings, where you will live as an upper-status Hobbit named Bonser Boof.
17. If photographed just right, looks vaguely like a Causcasian, chunky version of Fez from That 70's Show.
Things that are true: 1,3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 14
May be true: 2, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17
Most likely untrue: 4, 7, 11
Trick question: 8. Part 1 is true, part 2 may be true.
things that are true were all taken from the Boof Bonser entry at Wikipedia
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
First off, some general impressions of the match. It was hard fought, and generally speaking, as well called as a match this big can be. I didn't have a rooting interest in either team, though I'll admit I was hoping to see Henrik Larsson do good things, and he did. But on the whole, I didn't care who won, just wanted to see a good match, and it was certainly that. Lots of drama.
I'm sure if you turn down your music, or ignore your boss, you will be able to hear, even now, the wailing and the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments throughout London at this very moment. They will come up with reasons why they lost, and why it wasn't their fault, and all the other things that come with losing a major championship. I don't think they'll get to Mike Holmgren levels, because again, this game was pretty well called.
You gotta feel for Arsenal's back-up keeper, who must have felt between the posts much as Dante did in Clerks: "I'm not even supposed to be here today." Giving up two goals, and then having the commentators mention that the only two other goals that Arsenal gave up their entire run was while Lehmann was sitting also stung. Teams only score on the shitty back-up, was the subtext. Though he played in three games, and gave up four goals (which really, isn't bad. Just under 1.5 goals a game isn't spectacular, but it isn't shitty, either. It's good. It's very good. Well, it's OK).
I linked to the Bloomberg story, because I have some issues with it. Again, being a dispassionate observer, I thought I should share my comments, because that's why people don't come to this blog to not read it. Ha-ha!
I don't want to blow 'fair use' out of the water, so I'll try to quote sparingly, but really, the nuances in this piece are myriad and serve to deliver a message. I'd like to challenge that message a bit. Go read the whole thing, though.
Barcelona failed for an hour to dominate 10-man Arsenal before rallying to win the Champions League final
While factually accurate, this is the kind of thing any soccer player will realize as bullshit. Both teams adjust when a player is sent off. It is shockingly common for the team who had a player sent off to play better for the next 10, 20, 30 minutes. Why? For the same reason every team everywhere tries to be the underdog. It's an amazing motivator. And if you are a man down on the pitch, boy are you ever the underdog. Going down to 10 men with 70 minutes left to play makes you a HUGE UNDERDOG. I have to wonder how many stupid, homertown Brits placed 2nd half bets, convinced their lads would have the magic to stay in the lead. Great goal, though, by old man Sol Campbell. Doing what he has done for nigh a decade or more. Rising up on a set piece and putting a header where a goalie can't possibly reach it.
Now coached by another Dutchman, Frank Rijkaard, Barcelona sealed a second straight Spanish title two weeks ago and, with the team's average age of 27, more may follow.
Yet with 14 minutes left, Arsenal, in its first European Cup final and with an even younger team coached by Arsene Wenger, appeared to be heading for victory thanks to Campbell's 37th- minute headed goal.
A team that is "younger" in average age but relying on Sol Campbell for offense is the kind of paradox that would make philosopher's heads explode. How much younger is Arsenal then Barca? The article doesn't state, because I think it is necessary, to backdate the idea that Arsenal was the underdog. 27 isn't that young of an average, really. Would you want a team with an average of 31 years on the pitch? I guessing having young goalies skews this stat like crazy. But a team with Henry, Ljungberg, Pires, and Campbell can't possibly be considered young (nor old), no matter what their average age is. They had veteran leadership in their prime. Ljungberg, in a lot of ways, was Arsenal's most dangerous player this game. And usually, he's a dangerous player in the clubs of downtown London, if you know what I mean? The birds do, don't they? Phroar!
A defense including 22-year-old Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure, 25, stifled Ronaldinho's trickery even after Arsenal was reduced to 10 men when Lehmann brought down Eto'o on the edge of the penalty box and received a red card.
Completely accurate. It may have been noted somewhere in this paragraph that Ronaldinho looked off the entire game. Missing badly on free kicks that were perfectly set up for his dangerous kicks, and even lofting a corner as badly as I ever did, when I was taking them for the JV squad of the Macalester College Fighting Scots. The commentators throughout the game, stated they thought that the line-up and positioning that Barca was using was counter-intuitive. You have Eto'o, one of the best center strikers in the game the past two years out on the wing. No one could make sense of it.
That said, Eboue and Toure played magnificent games, and they did stifle the attack. Until the attack reorganized.
``You'd think no-one could handle Barcelona with 10 men for 70 minutes but Arsenal did,'' Charlie Nicholas, an Arsenal icon as a striker in the 1980s, said in an interview. ``(Thierry) Henry's miss was the decisive moment, not the sending-off.''
Charlie may be an icon, but his math sucks. In point of fact (to be all Britishy about it) Arsenal did not handle Barca for 70 minutes. If they had, they would have won. They handled them for about 60 minutes. Then, Barca put in fresh legs on offense, charged for the goal, and facing tired, old men in the back, and tired young men as well, they put pressure on.
The key moment was clearly the sending off, or both of Henry's misses, which weren't "misses" in the sense I think of them. He put balls on goal, admittedly at the keeper, but then again, so did Barca. Barca got two goals out of their shots at the keeper. Which I'll touch on later. But Henry's misses could be considered poor shots, or they could be considered as well-timed reactions by Barca netminder Valdes. While I lean towards the former, I won't deny the poise Valdes had the few times he was tested (and that really wasn't that often).
The second key moment was the insertion of Henrik Larsson. Fresh legs, an experienced attacker, he keyed both goals. While Henry was begging for offensive support, which Wenger pretty much ignored, Barcelona inserted offense. Out of desperation, sure. But if you are up 1-0, and playing a man down, you should be playing desperate offense as well. Inserting Morientes with only 5 minutes, and already down a man and a goal? too little, too late. We will see if the English press focuses its Booby Driven Page 3 "news" on Wenger's decision making, or just on Henry's misses and Lehmann's send off.
I think an argument could be quite easily made that Arsene was out-coached this evening, by Dutch genius (on the pitch at least) Rijkaard.
He guided the ball into Eto'o's path in the 76th minute, allowing the African player of the year to fire in between substitute goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and the post. Wenger said Eto'o was offside when Larsson touched the ball.
That passage just has the stank of Washington Press Corps on it. Wenger "said Eto'o was offside"? Hey, Bloomberg, did you watch the game? I heard no mention of offside when I was watching. Upon watching replays, is it clear that Eto'o was off? Or that he was on? You're reporting on the game--how about some conclusion here? He didn't look off to me, but I only watched it in real time. I watched with 5 soccer players, and I didn't hear one of them say, "Eto'o was off". Maybe he was off. Tell us, Bloomberg. You dicks.
The second part of the story in my mind is that Lehmann's sub, Almunia, while he played well, didn't play as spectacularly as Arsenal is used to from Lehmann. He got beat near post, and on the second goal, the ball struck the inside of his leg and bounced into the net. Unlucky, to be sure, and really, anytime someone is rocketing a shot from the 6 yard box, the goalie is in trouble. Call me an American homer, if you wish, but if kasey Keller is in net for Arsenal, this game doesn't end at the 90 minute mark.
Justin Gatlin's world record, is now his and Asafa Powell's. As it turns out, his 9.76 in last weeks 100 meters in Qatar, was really a 9.766. Therefore, it was to have been rounded up to a 9.77 the same time that Asafa Powell set last year.
Gatlin, according to IAAF rules, can now request a "re-do" where he'd be able to run a 100 meter race against himself on the street in front of his house, while his brother times him with a stop watch. The results of this "re-do" would then be immediatley argued as "unfair" and "...the first one should'a counted", but according to its own rules, the IAAF would have to accept them, as Justin Gatlin and his brother can kick the shit out of the whole governing body and they have to respect that. Gatlin expects to run a blistering 9.2 in stocking feet while his mom yells at him from the front stoop, lambasting him for "gettin' them socks too dirty to get clean in the wash!"
The saga of international track and field competition continues.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Ugh. What a dogpile. The conference equivalent of an Andy Sidaris film festival. Let's get it over with.
Arizona Cardinals: Kurt Warner would definitely be too old for this shit, if not for the bargain he made with the devil. Truly Faustian in nature, the devil guaranteed success in the NFL for Warner, if he agreed to marry the Devil's Sister. So we've got a supernatural aspect to our Buddy Cop Movie, which feels really tacked on. Because we've also got this whole Matt Leinert angle, the young up and coming slut-poker (hey Matty, could she even tell when you sent it in?) taking on the savvy veteran of Warner. So we've got a geniune sports movie cliche operating here. Matty has already shown shades of Nuke LaLoosh. But then again, I almost forgot we gotta add The Edge to this equation. Now, it's a buddy cop movie! Holy Crap! Kurt Warner as the grizzled old desk sergeant, or maybe that Morgan Freeman character he played in like 5 straight movies. Leinert as the young slut-poking cop. But I don't know if I see James as a cop. He may actually have to be the bad guy. The more I think about, this is going to be one dark movie. We've got elements of Satan (scary), Ron Shelton (scary again) and a menancing villian. I think what we have here is "7even". Imagine Edgerinn playing Kevin Spacey's character! Compelling shit! 9 stars! Maybe this conference won't be such a wash after all.
St. Louis Rams: Whoops. Spoke too soon. You can't have a compelling Buddy Cop movie with only one decent character. Stephen Jackson is all by himself out there. This has the makings of a gritty, existential film noir. They should start the season with Jackson floating face down in a pool. That's how bad it is going to be. Torry Holt is going to want his money back. Get in line, Torry! Absolutely no buddy cop here at all. 1 star.
San Francisco 49er's: To quote Kramer, "Don't look at me. I'm hideous." This is truly an Andy Sidaris movie, without the former Playboy bunnies, boobies, guns, or remote control helicopters, or even Travis Abilene. This won't even have the fun of watching a train wreck. You will feel bad every time you give up time and or money to watch these people, even when it is your own home team rolling over them. Can Frank Gore make this story a bit more compelling? Nope. 1 star.
Seattle Seahawks: Now, this has some decent plotlines available to us. I think Hasselbeck and Alexander would make a fine duo. Though I think this movie was better the last time around. Can they find compelling story lines that they haven't already done to death? Can they top last year's compelling blend of action and drama ? I don't see how. This is a treading water franchise like Lethal Weapon 3, or the soon to be made Rush Hour 3. These two have made magic together, but its just wearing a little old, you know? Still, when faced with the competition they have here, it seems like it would be wrong to not give them at least 6 stars.
Via The Consumerist I noticed that Amazon is having a TV DVD sale. How does relate to our snide Generation X (Yeah, Gen X man!) blog? Well, damn it, son, don't the picture over the right there give you a hint?
The White Shadow Season 1 DVD is under $20. C'mon man. You gotta buy The White Shadow.
Then let me know if it is as good as I remember. I'm not willing to buy programs that I remember being cool as a first-grader. I had shitty taste back then. Though I did have a pretty sweet Spider-Man copter, and a crush on a Swedish girl. Jesus, maybe my taste was better back then. Anyway, go get some White Shadow.
Thoughts of a nation rest on one man's groin
Once I shrugged off my disappointment that the article wasn't about my cult following in Djibouti, it is a worthwhile read. The headline is really just the beginning. Australians have a lovely way with the English language, when they bother to try (yeah--that take Australia! stupid continent)
It focuses on the near constant worry about Harry Kewell's condition, who apparently hurt his groin in the FA Cup. The remarkable thing about that is that he made it into any sort of final. He's usually hurt before then. (Though I do believe he briefly played in the Champion's League Final last year before getting so, so predictably hurt).
Unrelated to Kewell, but still from the article, and just an awesome quote:
An element of geopolitical tension underscores the drama. Australia is still a minnow among soccer nations and little known or understood. When Everton's Australian midfielder, Tim Cahill, hurt himself two weeks ago, imperilling his World Cup ambitions, Everton manager David Moyes said he would not leave judgements about Cahill in the hands of "Australian witch doctors".
Ah, go read it. Giggle at the headline, and then learn about Kewell's fleshy strips.
Soccer hooligans could be silenced by a new sound system that neutralises chanting
with a carefully timed echo.
Stadiums could use the technique to defuse abusive or racist chants, say the Dutch researchers behind it. The echoes trip up efforts to synchronise a chant, neutralising an unwelcome message without drowning out the overall roar of a crowd.
Sander van Wijngaarden, who researches human acoustics at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research in Delft, began working on the technique in 2004 after several Dutch soccer matches were blighted by abusive chanting.
While people have expressed displeasure publicly since ancient times, the English word boo was first used in the early 19th century to describe the lowing sound that cattle make. Later in the 1800s, the word came to be used to describe the disapproving cry of crowds. Hoot, another onomatopoeic English word, was used as early as 1225 to describe the same phenomenon. (Ancient Greek and Latin both contain words resembling boo that mean "to cry or shout aloud," though there is no known etymological connection to the modern English word.)
found this via BoingBoing, which isn't a time-wasting site; it's a time-annihilator. It seeks out and kills time's kids. It's the Keyzer Soze of time. Click with caution. But you should click.
Italian Goalkeeper Buffon reassures his aged mother that if he is suspended for game fixing, that he will launch vendetta against all who crossed him, just for her.
As a former amateur sprinter it is with awe that I looked upon the achievement of Justin Gatlin this weekend in Qatar. His 9.76 in the 100 meters is almost impossible to fathom, yet he is not satisfied and is already pushing to run a 9.73 in June in NYC. Gatlin has it in his head that he can run a 9.60 sometime, given similar conditions to what he ran in this weekend in Qatar. He broke the record that Jamaican phenom Asafa Powell set last year in Athens, a pedestrian 9.77.
I ran a 10.80 in high school and that was considered fast. I lost to guys who ran 10.6’s and a rare 10.4 (to win state and set a state record). So, to see a guy run .7 a second faster than the fastest I ever raced against, is amazing. It is like a guy in the NFL running a 3.9 second 40-yard dash when everyone else considered fast is running 4.3 (which is in fact quite fast). I like having that previous experience for perspective and it helps make me a true fan of the sport, but it also allows me to be completely dumbfounded by an achievement such as Justin Gatlin’s this weekend. The best part is that Justin described his race as "patient". A virtue indeed in an event lasting less than 10 seconds.
Gatlin and Powell will race head to head later this summer in England on June 11th and if the right weather conditions are to be had, well it is England so I won’t hold my breath, they could push the field to break Gatlin’s 9.76.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
There has been a lot of talk that this the Group of Death. I can see that argument, but I don't necessarily buy into it completely. I think the group with Italy/Czech Republic/USA/Ghana is the rough and tumble of the Cup. But by jiminy, there are some tough teams in this group, and obviously, the most talked about first round match is here: Argentina vs. The Netherlands. Two teams with a lot to prove after some embarassing failures, and no love lost between them either. June 21st. Call in sick, if you have to.
Serbia and Montenegro
Argentina: This team is good. Real good. Quality strikers in Crespo, Saviola and Tevez. Riquelme can be a very dangerous offensive midfielder, and the Argentines have a history of playing really really tough defense. And let's not forget the way they crapped the bed last Cup. Presumably, this team will come to Germany eager to beat the stuffing out of some folks. I think in almost any other group, they would easily beat the stuffing out of at least 2 teams, and easily advance. But this is a tough, tough groupl
Netherlands: Head Coach Marco Van Basten has been causing a series of minor controversies each time he pares down his roster for the Cup. He's been saying thanks but no thanks to lots and lots of talented veterans in favor younger players, who many of us haven't heard of, because they ply their trade in some the Dutch league. Here's where I come down on the debate. I agre with Marco Van Basten, because he's Marco Fucking Van Fucking Basten. I will tend to give him the benefit of the doubt until 1) it is clear his strategy isn't working, or 2) When I win World Footballer of the Year twice. His strategy could backfire of course. Playing qualification matches isn't the same thing as playing Argentina in a true World Cup setting, and I personally would have loved to have seen Edgar Davids rocking the midfield one last time in Holland oragne, but so be it. This team is my favorite somewhat dark horse of the field, despite the fact that I truly dislike Ruud van Nistelroy. Of course, I have a soft spot for them. I grew up watching Johann Cruyff videos and hanging up Ruud Gullit posters. Watched Kluivert and Bergkamp dazzle when I first really really started following international soccer. I just dig em.
Cote d'Iviore--Well, I know more than I did five minutes about this team, after scanning this interview with their defensive midfielder, Didier Zokora. They have some pretty serious offensive talent on this team, with Didier Droga and Bonaventure Kalou, and a world-class defender in Kolo Toure. It is the rest of the team that the problems lie. They are young, and their defense has been shaky at times, and they will facing two of the most dangerous offensives in the Cup in Argentina and the Netherlands. I think they'll be a tough out, but there going to have a tough time winning more than 1 game.
Serbia and Montenegro--This team is getting a lot of love in the pundit classes, but the vast majority of the fans polled don't seem that as I real threat to knock off anybody. They play, tough, physical defence, and that's all well and good, but you gotta score to win. Tying 3 games isn't going to be enough to move on, and I find it unlikely that even their tough brand of play is going to keep any of these teams scoreless. In another group, they might be an intriguing upset pick. But this group isn't for upset pickin'.
Carolina Panthers: There's a lot of potential here. Jake Delhomme is like Pierce Brosnan to Brett Favre's Sean Connery. Maybe not as fun and exciting, but still pretty entertaining in his own way. Perhaps he needs more drama in his life to make him a truly compelling Buddy Cop Partner. Why can't he overcome a drug addiction, or have his home ruined by a natural disaster, or his brother-in-law killed by an ATV accident? That would make him far more interesting. And DeShaun Foster is just a non-factor in terms of audience interest. He's an Eric LaSalle. Inoffensive, but not a major draw. 4 stars.
Atlanta Falcons: Is Warwick Dunn getting too old for this shit? He probably is, but he's also coming off of some very exciting seasons, due in part to his backfield co-star, a young, brash partner who's unpredictable, rash and electrifying. Michael Vick is all of that. He's Box Office Gold! Of course, the suits are going to worry that without a white co-star, the audience won't show up. But the Falcons will prove them wrong, especially with the NC-17 version that delves into the exploits of Ron Mexico. The critics may pan it, but the puerile 14 year old in us all will love it. Think Bad Boys + Girls Gone Wild, and you've got the ATL. 9 Stars.
Tampa Bay Bucs: Chris Simms and Cadillac Williams? No old guy getting too old for this shit, which is a crucial component of your typical Buddy Cop movie. This is a troubling sign, but you know, there's no reason that this can't be a success. You've got Chris, who is a good ole boy with an emotionally complex backstory-- the legacy of his father haunting him. There could be a scene with some old coach going on and on about how great Phil was, and then Chris says, "I'm not my father!" and the old coach squints at him, spits a hunk of tobacco, shakes his head, and says, "No. I guess you're not. I guess you're not" Always a great scene. And you know, if you go by the name Cadillac, you must be bringing some serious charisma to the table; otherwise, you simply aren't getting through life with that nickname. These guys are way too different to get along effectively! Or are they? Potentially as entertaining as Shanghai Noon. 7 stars, with potential to go to 9 stars if Cadillac starts riffing ala Clinton Portis or Owen Wilson.
New Orleans Saints: Well who knows? Certainly Reggie Bush and Drew Brees have some serious potential here. But you know, I think we'd better wait for the previews on this one. Sometimes, you take two guys, at the height of their abilities, and you still end up with Tango and Cash. We're withholding judgement until the movie actually opens. You can't ever trust the advance publicity, ever. A probationary 6 stars.
It is possible, if you aren't a big time MLB stat geek, or a Twins fan, or player of MLB 2006: The Show, that you have never heard of Francisco Liriano.
Time to recognize, fools. Liriano has been quietly racking up some pretty audacious stats this season, and the past couple of weeks in particular.
He first started getting compared to Johann Santana last year, for the following reasons:
1. They are both left-handed
2. The name Francisco Liriano is only slightly less cool than the uber-cool name Johann Santana. 3. They both work very heaty fastballs, have killer off-speed, and one other pitch. Liriano's curve is the talk of the Twin's organization.
First of all, let's see what MLB.com has to say (which isn't a marketing tool of the huge billionaire bloated Major League Empire. It's a legit reporting source. Really!)
Francisco Liriano, Minnesota: Liriano is only 22 years old
and looks like an ace in the making. He's a lefty who routinely brings his
fastball to the plate in the mid-90s -- though his heater has been clocked as
high as 98 mph -- to go with a very good changeup (84-86 mph) and improving
Then, his most recent outings: 3 Scoreless innings against the Rangers on May 9th.
And then, finally, tonight, he was absolutely lights out.
Francisco Liriano struck out four in 2 1-3 innings of scoreless relief for Minnesota.
So, if you are in a fantasy baseball league, and you need some help at RP (and maybe SP) Liriano may be available. Grab him, grab him now. Put up with the growing pains, and you'll reap the rewards (especially if you are in a keeper league).
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Four in a row for the Twins, including 2 over the White Sox. We'll see if that inspires Silva get his ass out of his ass.
How Stereotypical Japanese Can You Get?
Matsui Apologizes for Breaking His Wrist
LeBron James Somehow Lives up to his Unlivable Hype
Some team in Texas beats another Team in Texas. I dislike both of them.
I will use this opportunity to link to the possible hoax song (though I have seen no evidence that it is) of Dirk Nowitzki singing about life on the road.
Detroit Lions: And Matt Millen has selected as his leading man: Abe Vigoda. 1 star.
Green Bay Packers: Brett Favre is an action movie anomaly. We never see the old cop being the one who breaks the rules, who has a reckless streak, unless we are reading James Ellroy. While L.A. Confidential isn't a typical "buddy cop movie", Favre makes us think of some combination of Vincennes and Bud, a tired, cynical cop who breaks rules when it makes sense. He loves the idea of being a cop, more than the actual work. Ahman Green doesn't really figure in--I gues he could be the Guy Pearce role, Ed Exley. Perfectionist who is screwing up. I'd want to find a way to squeeze in Najeh Davenport, but I don't remember their being anyone in that movie who poops in basket. But it sounds like an Ellroy thing. Infinitely watchable. 8 stars.
Minnesota Vikings: Well, Brad Johnson is definitely too old for this shit. It's a shame Onterrio Smith couldn't stay on the team, because that would be an all star buddy cop movie right there. As it is, this seems like an ensemble piece. Mewelde Moore could be the young black cop who gets killed by bad guy, while Brad kneels over his body and screams "Mendoza!" Chester Taylor could be the guy whose happy he transferred out of the shit station he was in before, eager to prove himself. But Brad would know that this job is more dangerous than young Chester realizes, and try to protect him. And in the process, maybe, just maybe, fall in love. Romantic buddy cop movies don't work, though. 4 stars.
Still, such an explosive cast deserves watching. 6 stars.
NY Giants : Young buck quarterback, old timer running back. Tiki is also too old for this shit. Tiki=Danny Glover. Eli Manning equals Mel Gibson's character, if it were played by Scott Caan. Dumb meat head, possibly smarter than we think he is. No real chemistry here.
Boring. Predictable. 3 stars.
Philly Eagles: Donovan McNabb: too old for this bullshit. His backfield partner? Who knows who that is. The Eagles are like the Rough Draft of "Lethal Weapon 1". Ugly stuff. Dress rehearsals.
Too many roles to be cast. I don't think this picture ever gets made. though if it does, look for a cameo from Dietrich Jells! 0 Angry stars.
Washington Skins : Let's see. Mark Brunell is on the verge of retirement. He's looking to pad his pension a little before he goes out. He's a little too old for this shit. And his backfield partner is Clinton Portis who excels at disguise, being crazy, and getting the job done. This is Pure Lethal Weapon One.
If the NFC East made Buddy Cop movies, clearly one starring Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis is the movie to see. 10 stars.
So why the fuck not combine them? What could be lost? Most Quarterbacks are white, still. I don't know of a starting running back in the NFL who isn't black. So, what we have here is a perfect opportunity to evaulate divisions based on their Buddy Cop Quotient, or BCQ.
If we don't do it, here at I Dislike Your Favorite Team, who will? Someone else. And I don't want Someone Else to do it. Someone Else stinks of Garlic and drinks absinthe and writes about how soccer would be more popular if the goals were bigger, or if the goals were smaller without goalies. Fuck Someone Else. We're doing this.
All backfield combos will be evaluated as a potential buddy cop movie, if they remind us of one, and then be given a rating 1-10 stars, just like movies! Fun? Possibly.
You'll see, and I think you'll like. First up: NFC East (that's still a division, right?)
Friday, May 12, 2006
For reals, I feel that England even sanz Rooney will come out of the group. Even though my gut tells me that the squad is about to implode and funk it all up, just so the Brits have something else to bitch about. I feel my esteemed colleague's send up of T&T is right on, and that Paraguay is somewhat of an unknown quantity, which leaves us with the best team in the group Sverge! Honestly, compare that white trash hotty the Brits have to the underwear model hunk that the Swedes have and you'll see where I am coming from. Sweden is clearly the best side in the group and will prove by coming out on top of the group. I must admit that my ancestral ties to the land of Sven have absolutely nothing to do with this prediction, rather it is finely calculated reasoning of the most informed kind. Sverge, Sverge!